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Intimal estrogen receptor (ER)beta, but not ERalpha expression, is correlated with coronary calcification and atherosclerosis in pre- and postmenopausal women.

Authors: Christian, RC  Liu, PY  Harrington, S  Ruan, M  Miller, VM  Fitzpatrick, LA 
Citation: Christian RC, etal., J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006 Jul;91(7):2713-20. Epub 2006 Apr 11.
Pubmed: (View Article at PubMed) PMID:16608893
DOI: Full-text: DOI:10.1210/jc.2005-2672

BACKGROUND: Controversy exists over the association of estrogen and cardiovascular disease. Estrogen receptors (ERs) alpha and beta are expressed in the endothelial cells and vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) of many arteries, but the relative importance of ERalpha or ERbeta in mediating the vascular response to estrogens is not well defined, particularly in humans. We have shown previously that postmenopausal women receiving hormone therapy (HT) had lower mean coronary artery calcium, plaque area, and calcium-to-plaque ratio compared with untreated women. In this study, we examined coronary artery ERalpha and ERbeta expression in pre- and postmenopausal women as a function of plaque area, calcium area, calcium-to-plaque ratio, and estrogen status. METHODS: Coronary arteries were obtained at autopsy from a total of 55 women: nine premenopausal women, 13 postmenopausal women on HT and 33 untreated postmenopausal women (non-HT). Coronary calcification was quantified by contact microradiography, and atherosclerotic plaque area was measured histologically. Coronary artery cross-sections were immunostained for ERalpha and ERbeta, and the amount of receptors was estimated semiquantitatively in each arterial wall layer (intima, adventitia, and media). Double immunofluorescence was used to colocalize ERalpha and ERbeta with smooth muscle actin, a marker of VSMCs. RESULTS: ERbeta and ERalpha were expressed in all artery wall layers, but most avidly in the media (P = 0.001), and colocalized with VSMCs. ERbeta expression exceeded ERalpha expression in all wall layers (P < 0.001) and was adjacent to areas of calcium deposition. ERbeta expression in the intimal layer correlated with calcium content, plaque area, and calcium-to-plaque ratio (all P < 0.01) and tended to be greater in non-HT than in HT women (P = 0.06). ERalpha expression did not vary significantly among groups, nor did it correlate with calcium content, plaque area or calcium-to-plaque ratio. Expression of ERalpha but not ERbeta declined with age (P < 0.01) in HT women only. Age had no effect on ERalpha or ERbeta expression in non-HT or premenopausal women. CONCLUSIONS: ERbeta is the predominant ER in human coronary arteries and correlates with coronary calcification, a marker of severe atherosclerosis. Increased ERbeta expression is linked to advanced atherosclerosis and calcification independent of age or hormone status. Future pharmacogenetic studies that target this receptor are needed to confirm causality.


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RGD Object Information
RGD ID: 1581011
Created: 2006-09-08
Species: All species
Last Modified: 2006-09-08
Status: ACTIVE


RGD is funded by grant HL64541 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute on behalf of the NIH.